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A History of Jay Wright vs. Bill Self

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Villanova and Kansas have had a number of thrilling games over the last two decades, and that’s in large part due to their head coaches.

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Happy Wednesday Nova Nation! As we not so patiently wait for Saturday’s big game, I figured we’d take a look at the figure heads of the two programs. In 2001 Jay Wright took over at Villanova, and two years later Bill Self became the head coach at Kansas. That season was the first clash between the two coaches, and they’ve gone back and forth seven times over the last fifteen years. This will be their eighth meeting, and a chance for Self to tie things up as Wright currently leads the matchup 4-3.

It started back in the 2004 season, when a newly hired Self was able to take down the up-and-coming Wright in Lawrence as the first half of a home and home. But the next year, 2005, would be a much bigger deal for Wright as it signified his breakthrough with the Wildcats in a blowout of then #2 Kansas. Self would get his own breakthrough, defeating Wright on the way to his first National Championship in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. But the next three matchups would belong to Wright as he turned the program around in 2013, won a National Championship in 2016, and won a second National Championship in 2018. When the programs finally reprised their home-and-home series 15 years after their first, Kansas again got the victory at home. Now either Wright will again win in South Philly, or Self will even up his record against his Villanova counterpart.

Both of these coaches are considered among the upper echelon of the college coaching landscape. They’ve both won National Championships (and they beat each other to do it), multiple Conference Championships and Tournaments, and they’ve even both won National Coach of the Year. Self is already in the Hall of Fame, and Wright will be in as soon as he becomes eligible. So if both of these coaches are at the top of their games, what’s the differentiator between them?

The difference has played out in the court of public opinion over the last two years. Jay Wright has a polished public persona that could rival his top notch suit collection. Self on the other hand has had his name dragged through the mud as he and Kansas have been a primary focus of the now multi-year investigation into buying college players. I’m not here to give an opinion on it one way or another, but let’s say I think many coaches would rather be in Jay Wright’s shoes than Bill Self’s, and not just because they’re really nice shoes.

But let’s take it back to the court and get into specifics. In their seven games against one another, Kansas has always been ranked. In fact, in all but their first meeting Kanasas has been ranked in the Top 4. Villanova has only recently joined them in the rankings, being ranked in the last 3 contests. Only once has Villanova been the higher ranked team, and that was the 2018 Final Four blowout. That means that in games when Kansas has been ranked higher than Villanova, the sides are tied at 3-3.

Villanova has only played Kansas at home once before, the 2005 Blowout in the Blizzard. They also have the margin advantage in the last seven contests at +21. But if you’re looking for a single stat to point to, it’s going to be on defense. Throwing out the 2018 Final Four game because it was over by half-time, in the other games Villanova has won they’ve held Kansas to 62 points or fewer. If Kansas can get its offense rolling, they’ve been too much for the WIldcats to handle. We’ll see if the same holds true in what could be Self’s chance to tie things up with Wright before having to make decisions about his future at Kansas.

In other “news”, Jalen Brunson is named college basketball Athlete of the Decade, Villanova Football has an impressive incoming recruiting class, and a great story about Villanova alumni Ron Brooks. Enjoy!

Villanova Men’s Basketball

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Villanova vs Kansas

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Villanova Basketball Alumni

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NBA Wildcats

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr is using his Kawhi Leonard lesson learned from Gregg Popovich with Eric Paschall, which should make Golden...

Villanova Football

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Coatesville quarterback Ricky Ortega and his explosive wide receiving partner Dapree Bryant head up the local players in this year's class.

Villanova Adjacent

Sixers national anthem singer Ron Brooks continues to make the most of his one-of-a-kind life | The Athletic
"I do the best I can every day," said Brooks, the 54-year-old singer and first double amputee to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.

Villanova University

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Drawing for the new addition.

College Basketball

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